「血斗（マツリ）は誰がために」 (Chito (Matsuri) wa Da ga Tame ni)
“For Whom is the Bloodbath (Festival)”
Wow, what an episode. What starts off as an innocent festival quickly turns into a cork gun survival game with 10 million yen (~$100k USD) on the line. For that, we have to thank Mikako and the undertaker-like target practice store owner she hired. However, things take a turn for the better when Nymph releases the protection on Ikaros’ memories and unintentionally restores her abilities as well.
Compared to last episode, the plot takes a significant turn here, which should please everyone who’s been eagerly awaiting this moment. After Ikaros totally plows through the competition with her aerial gatling gun (A-10 Thunderbolt II style), Nymph approaches her and insinuates how it must have been a nostalgic feeling doing so. Nymph then forcibly interrogates her about being the Uranus Queen and talks about taking her back to the Synapse, leaving Ikaros with nothing to do but state that she’s a Pet-class Angeloid Type Alpha. Losing patience, Nymph decides to hack Ikaros’ memory protection and force her to remember.
From her memories, Ikaros recalls how her master in the sky (Miki Shinichirou) ordered her to go to the surface and annililate anyone there. Overwhelmed by the influx of memories, she ends up breaking out in tears, much to Nymph’s amusement. The laughs don’t last long though, as Nymph quickly realizes that all of Ikaros’ emotions and abilities were completely restored as well, forcing her to fight. During their exchange, Ikaros shows her supremecy with her Aegis shield and Apollon arrow (which has the power to destroy all of Japan), reiterates that she’s a Pet-class Angeloid who intends to return to her master, and begs Nymph to leave. The Electronic Warfare-class Angeloid Type Beta hesitently does, but not before questioning what Tomoki will think of her once he finds out she’s a weapon of mass destruction.
Things then turn back to Sohara and Tomoki, who are the two remaining competitors of Mikako’s survival game. Unbeknownst to Sohara though, the gun she has happens to be real since the target practice owner slipped a couple in to the cork guns. As Tomoki runs for his dear life, Sohara imagines all the good things she can do with Tomoki once she wins the money, and ends up firing at him. Luckily, Ikaros arrives in time to eat the bullet, which initially looks like it kills her but doesn’t phase her in the slightest. The target practice shop owner then returns as another remaining contestant, takes out Tomoki and Sohara, and gets a 50% cut of the winnings from Mikako. Afterward, Tomoki tells Ikaros never to do something that reckless again, causing her to break out in uncontrollable tears and cling to his back.
I’m a bit surprised that Tomoki either didn’t notice that Ikaros was crying, or didn’t realize that she’s showing emotions for the very first time. Things concluded quietly on that scene, so I’m really looking forward to where things go now that Ikaros has emotions. You could immediately sense that she was much more human at the end there, so they’ve already tickled my tastebuds with this “new” Ikaros. That said, I wonder what will happen to Nymph once she reports back to the Synapse about Ikaros awakening as her former self. Better yet, I wonder if Nymph will be punished for causing it in the first place. Either way, I can’t wait to see how all that unfolds.
Aside from that, the whole cork gun survival game was pretty funny to watch, especially with the old ladies taking part and trying to gun down Tomoki. Eishirou was pretty cool with his sniping abilities too, but his close-quarter gunfight with Mikako was all types of awesome. I’m pretty surprised how well their fight was choreographed and wish they showed the hand-to-hand portion as well. Other than that, there was a bit of drama when Ikaros was wiping everyone out and Eishirou dove out to try and protect Mikako. The semi-serious screenplay there was a nice touch, but the comic relief was even better when Tomoki shot Ikaros in the head and told her to stop owning everyone. That, in conjunction with the opening yukata fan-service scene really helped round out the other portion of the episode.
Lastly, we have another ending song/sequence again — this time about the “Wild Seven” from the survival game. I tend not to talk about these too much anymore, but I’m still impressed by how AIC ASTA can churn these out on a weekly basis with a new song and all. It sure gives the impression of a studio that has its act/business together.